Students join in drive to save City heritage

Delhi can very well be called a ‘mini-India’. It is a mixed-bag of cultures, religions and faith. With multiple identities, it is home to numerous languages as well.

The other highlight of Delhi, and which it is rightly proud of, is its historical monuments that dot the length and breadth of the city, giving it a rich, historic sheen.

But the sad part about these symbols of heritage is that in most cases many are very poorly-maintained, despite the Government’s effort to maintain their pristine glory. And somewhere, we as citizens are largely to blame for their poor health and showing scant disregard to the treasures that are a crucial part of our national heritage.

People can be seen littering, scribbling on the walls of the monuments, spitting, vandalising mindless of the shame such acts bring us as a people, as
a nation.

But, things ‘might’ change for the better in the future with Delhi vying for UNESCO’s World Heritage City tag and efforts to back its nomination for the status are expected to receive a boost.

In a bid to get the prestigious title, the Delhi Heritage Foundation (DHF) has come up with an ‘Adopt a Monument’ project to raise awareness about preservation of heritage monuments, among students.

“We have approached 365 schools in Delhi and have asked them to adopt one monument in their vicinity. For instance, Modern School has Agrasen ki Baoli in the area. The schoolchildren can learn about the history of the monument, visit it, make projects and presentations on it,” said G G Saxena, a retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and secretary of DHF.

“Delhi has cited the historical city of Shahjahanabad and the Lutyens’ Delhi in its bid for heritage status. It is very sad that there are 226 cities in the world which are given the title of World Heritage City, but none of our cities from India is there in that list. By bringing in students it will help to make them more aware about their heritage and learn about ways to keep them hygienic and clean. Through this project, the schools will also organise quiz contests, art and essay writing competitions, which will further help to increase their interest in the history of our city,” added Saxena.

Delhi’s focus will be on Old Delhi’s Shahjahanabad area which served as the capital under Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan from 1638 to 1648 and the British capital planned by architect Edwin Lutyens.

Currently, Delhi has 117 national monuments, which includes Qutub Minar, Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb and 1,000 other monuments under the State Government.

Professor AGK Menon, Delhi convenor of Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said, “It is a great initiative and will definitely benefit us in the long run. Young people are best to create awareness and also convince their
parents also to take part in such initiatives. Such initiatives will give them a sense
of ownership.”

Modern School located in Barakhamba Road is in close touch with Agrasen ki Baoli in their area. They regularly do heritage walks and other learning projects related to the monument. Even foreign delegates coming to the school take a keen interest in knowing about the Baoli.

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